$15m XPRIZE offered for technology idea that helps children to read and write

A new $15million competition for teams to develop software that enables children in developing countries to teach themselves reading, writing and arithmetic has been welcomed by Gordon Brown today.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education welcomed the Global Learning XPRIZE at the #EducationCountdown September Forum held by A World at School in New York.

The prize was unveiled by Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless, and XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller at the forum, held in conjunction with the UN General Assembly and hosted by Mr Brown in conjunction with the Global Business Coalition for Education.

The Global Learning XPRIZE, for which registration officially opened yesterday, is a five-year competition that challenges teams to develop open source and scalable software that will enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic skills.

Mr Brown said:, “According to a recent UNESCO report, at least 250 million primary school-age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics, many of whom have no access to formal education.

“There is huge potential for technology to bridge this gap and serve the needs of the most marginalised and excluded communities. The Global Learning XPRIZE is an exciting opportunity to inspire scalable, open-source solutions and innovative ideas to help bring personalised learning experiences to every child.”

After the six-month team registration period, teams will then have 18 months to develop their solutions. A panel of third-party expert judges will evaluate and select the top five teams to proceed in the competition, each receiving a $1 million award.

Solutions will be tested in the field across a minimum of 100 villages over an 18-month period, reaching thousands of children in the developing world. The $10 million top prize will ultimately be awarded to the team that develops a technology solution demonstrating the greatest levels of proficiency gains in reading, writing and arithmetic.

Mr Keller said: “Right now, in every corner of the globe, hundreds of millions of children will never realise their inherent potential not because they lack ability but simply because they lack opportunity. 

“The Global Learning XPRIZE represents the best chance for this generation of children to escape economic despair because it offers the potential for a solution that works, that’s scalable and that can be deployed immediately upon proof of concept.”

The Global Learning XPRIZE is funded by a group of donors, including the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Anthony Robbins Foundation, the Econet Foundation, the Merkin Family Foundation, Scott Hassan, John Raymonds and Suzanne West.

To register as a team, or for more information on how to support the Global Learning XPRIZE go here.